Unbeknown To Me I Have Anxiety.
Over the past year life for us all has changed dramatically. So much so that for me, I feel completely different. Before the lockdown, life was a constant whirlwind. I was always on the go and so consumed in life and getting the kids to school in time to get my unreliable train to work. I never had time to think too much about how I perceive life.
Being isolated during lockdown accelerated my journey. I was already on the path but last year I had time to make decisions about how I live and who is in my life. I found that before March of last year I was wound up and tired, stuck in a routine. Days went by and I was stressed but pre-occupied.
I never thought of anxiety until the children were in school during the height of the pandemic. When once I could take or leave the news, I was suddenly glued to the screen watching intently for updates. The previous month I had been very ill, I had no clue it could have been COVID. I had been signed off work, and when I returned for those four days before schools were closed I noticed that I was starting to experience breathlessness, headaches and sleepless nights. When I did sleep I started having vivid dreams which became exhausting, which made me anxious and upset. Then Boris said those magic words, that schools were to close, and I felt an unbelievable surge of relief.
Although I was somewhat relieved, I now feel that anxiety is with me. The fast, laboured breathing and confusion washes over me sometimes for no apparent reason. I find that the slightest hint of confrontation sends me into an attack. Initially I was confused why it was still happening – I had been working at home, feeling the pressure from the company to hit targets and build the business – which quite frankly is not easy in this climate.
One day when an attack occurred, I sat on my sofa, and received a call from a friend and suddenly felt a wave of heat come over me, my breathing became laboured and I became extremely confused. I remember repeating “what is this, why does this keep happening to me?”. My concerned friend on the WhatsApp call talked to me calmly and told me to stay focused and breathe. After some persuasion I listened and my breathing and thoughts stabilised.
Why is this happening - sudden attacks of fear and confusion? I sat and analysed what could have caused me to feel this way.
My children; the most important people in my life, my light and joy. Sitting watching the news waiting for Boris to decide our futures is (to this day) a huge trigger for my anxiety. I was at home working, yet I felt my children were being sent out into danger and this bothered me terribly. I have sat and measured it, and my stress levels definitely went through the roof when the kids prepared to go back to school. I think what brings this feeling on is the fact that I have no control, I can’t protect them, which is my sole purpose on this planet.
Anyone who knows me knows that like so many mothers, I am a tiger mum. I will do anything it takes to protect my children. With the current situation, I feel so out of control. My concerns are also increased when thinking about their social interactions and education. Both of my children excel in school, they have managed to do very well through the last turbulent year. The social aspect worried me even more.
They are not yet teenagers and I yearn for them to have a normal, happy childhood. Being separated from friends has made this difficult at times. They seem fine, but I put pressure on myself to ensure they’re happy.
The other triggers I noticed were friendships – I have touched on this before in other posts but I found that individuals came to me a lot with their issues. But when and who do I truly speak to about mine? Where do I go with my deep feelings? Does anyone care? #empathstruggles.
The vaccine – this maybe controversial but I am talking solely from my perspective. These are my feelings, which cause me fear and concern.
I am not an anti-vaxxer. I absolutely believe in vaccinations. My children have had every one. Every year I am first in line at the GP for my flu jab, as for me it is a life saver. With the new vaccines I won’t sugar coat it - I am worried. This is a surreal situation, overnight our lives changed. Living in the UK has been strange and the government have created such confusion as to what we can and can’t do. Late lockdowns, you name it.
I admit - I am scared. As a vulnerable person I worry about how I may feel or the lasting effects of this vaccine. I’m still doing my research, my first thought is to not have it right now, but the alternative is also not desirable. Will we be able to travel? Will we be able to have our freedom back? See our families again if we don’t have it? This is a big decision. Chances are I will have it, but the lack of control again creates unrest in me.
My anxiety is due to the fact that I can’t prevent or avoid certain situations. I have become extremely introverted. My world is my home, but I have no control when the government says the schools are open. I can’t wrap my kids up in cotton wool and protect them from the outside world. This desire I have to protect those around me is heightened and the fact I can’t makes me crazy.
The ways I have learnt to cope, not mope:
I know I say it a lot, but hey that’s my business and it’s so true. You must have some time for you. Working in the home, living on top of each other, children and all that comes with lockdown is tough. I have days where I feel I am constantly talking to someone. Take an hour. Do something you enjoy that allows you to silence your mind. Meditation is a great way to switch off. It allows space and focus. It can take a while to get into meditation especially if you are new to the concept, but stick with it, it’s extremely relaxing. Empath to Empath post meditation music choices every night and we also showcase meditations on our website. Find a space for you and try going inward. My personal favourite space is the shower. It’s the only place I am alone at the minute…well, that’s not strictly true - the cat loves to sit in the room with me.
Control your breathing
When anxiety hits, it hits with a vengeance. It’s a rush of feelings, thoughts and it is incredibly scary and confusing. Remember when this happens, you need to try to focus. Breathe deeply through the nose, long deep breaths to your belly for five seconds and exhale for five. A cycle of ten breaths will lower your heart rate and settle your thoughts. Whenever you feel this feeling try not to focus on why it’s happening and bring the focus to your breathing.
We all have that friend or family member we can vent to. Failing that, you are more than welcome to come to our groups and vent. I think now more ever it is key that we communicate how we feel. Self-expression is a huge focus for E2E and we believe that you should express your feelings the best way you know how. Let someone know you are struggling - it is ok to admit it. Our groups are always here to support.
I am terrible in the winter, I do warmth thank you very much. But it is essential that you get fresh air and exercise. This is important as being in the same place for a long time can have a drastic effect on your mood. If you live anywhere which is cold right now, I hear the groans and I am with you! But wrap up, get the nice winter clothing out and do at least half an hour.
If you exercise more, this will aid your sleep pattern. Sleep is needed as it conserves energy. Turn the devices off at a certain time each night, pick up that novel you have been itching to finish and silence your mind before sleep. Lavender is a great aid for assisting with sleep. I like to use lavender oil and incense. I also use a salt lamp which I switch on at night and create a sensual environment. The meditation music will come in handy here.
Seek professional help
If none of the above are helping, then you may need to consult with a doctor. Don’t allow anxiety to take over your life. It only wins if you let it. Talking to a professional will help if you are having severe effects. Please do not wait, consult a GP and get help. Talk to someone who is trained to handle these situations. Medication may be an option.
We are all human, no one has a perfect life all the time. It is impossible. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect, strong, and courageous all the time. Ignore things you see on social media. You know what I mean; the mum that seems to have it together and has made Harry Potter outfits, or the guy who has built a mansion in his back yard. Life is not social media. Social media is great and can be very positive, but the downside is that it can depict a false picture.
Don’t look at someone else and think they have it all figured out. They don’t because they too are human. People tend to portray that they have it all figured out. Take time off if this is a trigger for you. Understand that you have the ability and strength to overcome these feelings. Support each other as much as you can. Talk to people, find other interests. Start something new.
We will get through this. Thank you for reading.
Written by Lockdowninspired ©
"My goal is to spread light and positivity. I have a passion for people to understand their worth and potential. I believe in sharing your feelings and self expression. Freedom is a fundamental right and no one on this earth should feel as though they are not able to voice their feelings. I'm an advocate for anyone who feels they cannot be their true self. E2E will always provide you with a safe space to express".
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